We Are All Treaty People

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Connecting Elders and Youth

Commemoration of History

May 2019 was a busy month for Touchwood Tribal Council Senator Bill Strongarm.

He saw several long-term projects come to fruition, including a Wisdom Weekend for youth and the launch of posâkanacîweyiniwak: nitaskînân (The Touchwood Hills People: Our Land), a collaborative book.

On May 3 and 4, about 150 youth from Touchwood Tribal Council, and 90 from the Town of Watrous came together for presentations on Treaty, history and dances performances.

“It was kind of a reconciliation project. That’s what the underlying theme was, to get to know each other more effectively, and promote good will and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” Strongarm said.

“It was awesome and it was beyond my expectations.”

Strongarm is looking to have the event happen again, and looking to support other communities in holding similar events.

“It’s a two-way thing, it has to be shared equally, reconciliation,” he said. “Part of it is history and identity, it provides a tool for working together, collectively and collaboratively.”

Then on May 17, the community launched the book that is designed to capture the history of the land from the Elders. With the loss of language, many traditional names of places are in danger of being lost, Strongarm said.

“We interviewed elders and heard the stories behind the names of the sites,” he said.

The book was created in partnership with Andrew Miller, professor at the First Nations University of Canada and Saskatchewan Indigenous Cultural Centre. The book had a twofold purpose, one as a reality check on what was happening to the community in terms of loss of language, said Strongarm, and the other was to create a tool to be used in terms of place names.

Strongarm says he’s been receiving positive feedback since the launch, including the government could be considering changing some names back to the Cree names used before settlement.

“I think it’s very important. To me, if I’m a young child, if I hear a word I know the story,” he said.

Strongarm is not resting on these successes, but looking to the future. He is working on a second book, this one about Elders teachings and values.

“There is a gap that is slowly evolving between the Elders and the youth, because the Elders can only speak their language and the youth can’t. So, the teaching about the values isn’t happening,” he said.

“The teachings are very important in First Nations languages.”

The Office of the Treaty Commissioner will be adding posâkanacîweyiniwak: nitaskînân (The Touchwood Hills People: Our Land) to the Classroom Treaty Kits.

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